Sunday, September 12, 2010

Thai farmworkers describe being lured into slavery in U.S. -

"If you want to be fully convinced of the abominations of slavery, go on a southern plantation, and call yourself a negro trader. Then there will be no concealment; and you will see and hear things that will seem to you impossible among human beings with immortal souls."
Harriet Ann Jacobs 

Harriet Ann Jacobs was a slave girl who eventually would publish Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl.  We are talking about a text published in 1861.   Slavery.  It's still going on.  You have Somaly Mam's book, The Road of Lost Innocence, which was published in 2008.  Somehow, I think I am going to pair these books for a class, as it makes a connection between the past and the present.  For Somaly Mam, she was, for a few years, one of the 12.3 million in slavery TODAY, according to the US State Department's 2010 Report on Trafficking in Persons.

Thai farmworkers describe being lured into slavery in U.S. -
This article is not really related to Vietnam or Cambodia, but it is related to my ongoing development of a service learning/critical thinking topic for an advanced English class.  Mainly because I am actively researching the issue, I've come across a few things.  Yes, it is sort of depressing, but you must recognized the disease before you can prescribe a treatment.  Not all trafficking is sex related.  The problem about this event is that it is something that happened in the good ole US of A.  We are talking about Hawaii and Washington.      

This is not the first time I've observed Thai workers being forced into slave conditions in a sweatshop environment.  In some cases, they are shipped to places like Utah.  The International nature of the ring identified in Beverly Hills is rather disturbing, but not something that is unusual.  In many ways, some of the workers managed to get a temporary visa as compensation for their cooperation.  It believe it is called a  T Visa.  In some cases, some victims in the past have ended up getting permanent Green Cards.  Still, that is a hard way to get a Green Card.  

Now the United States has been getting better at this issue.  Before, it would be problematic to get anyone to testify due to the issue of being illegally present in the country.  We are a country of laws, but this doesn't mean the laws are rational.  This changed when in 2000, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act was passed.  With the T Visa system, it has been getting better.  

Unfortunately, the US is now on the radar as far as human trafficking is concerned.  In the 2010 report, we have put ourselves as a destination country for slaves.  This is especially problematic because of our history.  Remember, we did not really deal very well with the issue of African slavery.  How is it that we are now dealing with slavery again in the USA?  It is the same causal component--profit.  

It is also deeply disturbing to explore this topic, as it now merits an entire website called  If you explore the website, you will discover that this is a world wide phenomenon.  There are estimates that we have more slaves now than during the height of the American slave trade period.  The thing might be proportionality.  We have also more people in the world.  

In terms of Vietnam and Cambodia, it appears to be that Vietnamese girls are being trafficked into Cambodia, but there are reports of trafficking going to England and China as well.  Cambodian men and women are being trafficked in Thailand, Taiwan and Malaysia.  For the most part, it seems that there are two strands: labor and sexual exploitation.  For a detailed explanation of the sex slave industry, you can go to PBS Frontline.  Eastern Europe is also a hot bed, and lately, Russia has also shown up on the radar.

People often put up Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand as examples of countries that have this problem.  In reality, it is a global problem.  It doesn't just exist there.  The other thing is that many in the West are the ones fueling the problem.  This is why the LA event was important.  It shows that it is a global problem.

Slavery still exists, and it could be in your backyard right now.  Harriet Ann Jacobs would be rolling in her grave right now.